Kids Health

How To Know When It's Time to ‘Break Up’ With Your Mom BFF

Best mom friends are seriously the best. They’re that calm voice telling you, “You’re doing great,” after a long day of temper tantrums (whether those are coming from your 2-year-old or your teenager). Our mom friends help us feel less alone in our struggles, and build our confidence during those much-needed lunches that somehow extend into dinnertime. But what happens when your mom BFF suddenly transforms into the worst? If your bestie begins to bring you down, how do you know if your relationship has moved into toxic territory — and when is it time to move on? 

All friendships change and grow, and ideally, you can change and grow together. Dr. Katie Smith, a licensed clinical and child psychologist, defines a healthy friendship as one that has mutual respect. “In adult friendships, awareness, respect for one another’s boundaries, empathy, and compassion form the basis of healthy friendships,” Dr. Smith explains. When both friends can create this foundation, your relationship keeps you feeling good and connected. And it’s these qualities that keep a friendship thriving and moving forward in a positive way. 

“A safe and healthy friendship can do wonders for your mental health,” says Supatra Tovar, PSY.D, RD. Having a mom friend you can count on for late-night parenting talks or quick encouraging texts creates a supportive space for you to be heard and validated. Dr. Tovar explains this relationship finds its healthiest dynamic when reciprocity is put forward. “Healthy friendships inherently have an equal give and take, whether that is with listening and speaking, paying for lunch, or helping with favors or errands,” she says. A willingness to share and an air of generosity should be present. But what happens when the scales tip and the friendship becomes unbalanced?

After three years of close friendship, one mother noticed her friend slipping into an unexpected pattern. “We were like sister status,” she says. But when this mama needed her friend’s unconditional support, it didn’t happen. She explains she was going through a difficult emotional time, and instead of receiving empathy from her trusted friend, she felt shut down. Her friend’s uncaring behavior made her feel awful. “I looked to her for support, but she wasn’t really offering much,” she says. 

If you’re noticing some icky inconsistencies in a mom friendship of your own, but are unsure, Dr. Tovar says to watch out for friends who disrespect your boundaries. “One of the biggest red flags indicating a toxic or unhealthy friendship is when you experience issues with boundaries, such as a friend not respecting your time or interfering in a private matter,” Dr. Tovar says. So, if your bestie asks for all the help all the time but is unavailable to return the favor, or readily spills out her own drama but rarely provides a safe space to hear about your sleep-deprived day, you may want to reassess your relationship. 

One mom of two was surprised to find out her BFF was more a manipulator than a supporter. Their relationship began as work friends, but as time went on, this mother noticed her bestie’s behavior to be insistent. One major warning sign was when her BFF became jealous when other friendships were mentioned. “She made me feel small. Honestly, I felt bullied at times,” this mama reveals. 

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